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Judge Allows Washington State To Release Many Ballot Petitions

A judge  gave Washington State the go-ahead Friday to release copies of signed petitions for most ballot measures. It’s the latest twist in a year-long controversy over whether signing a petition is public or private act.

In Olympia, a Thurston County Superior Court judge lifted a restraining order. It had prevented Washington’s Secretary of State from fulfilling public disclosure requests for signed citizen initiative petitions.

The case was sparked when a political consultant asked for copies of all the signatures on 11 statewide ballot measures.

Anti-tax campaigner Tim Eyman sponsored nine of the 11 measures in question.

Tim Eyman: “We were gratified that the Secretary of State said that they will inform the requestor that he cannot use any of this information for commercial purposes, which was one of the concerns we had in the lawsuit.”

The judge’s decision in favor of disclosure does not apply to petitions for Referendum 71.

That was last year’s hard fought measure on gay domestic partnerships. Signers of those petitions continue to press a separate federal lawsuit to keep their names private.

Oregon’s Secretary of State takes the same position as Washington’s that ballot measure signatures are public.

However, her office in Salem says up to now, no one has asked for copies of any signed petitions.

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